CAPETOWN - Team South Africa has set themselves a target of 10 medals for the upcoming Summer Universiade in Taipei.
The final 180-strong delegation set to represent the country at the 29th Summer Universiade was announced last week, which includes 129 athletes and a 51-member technical team, including team managers, coaches and medical staff.
The delegation in its entirety consists of 25 more members than the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, with 15 more athletes making the squad. However, as opposed to participants in 21 different sports in Gwangju, Team South Africa will only have representatives in 10 different sporting codes in Taipei, the bulk being made up of the athletics squad with 44 athletes.
South Africa enjoyed renowned success in athletics in Gwangju, with all six of the medals won in 2015 coming from the track.
Five medallists from the games two years ago have been included in this year’s squad, headlined by 400m gold medallist Justine Palframan, who has been named as South Africa’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony.
2015 Gwangju 4x100m bronze medallists
Also included is Gwangju’s 800m bronze medallist Rynardt van Rensburg, 4x100m bronze medallist Ncincilili Titi as well as half marathon team bronze medallists Ambition Masihleho Ambition and Marianio Eesou.
In total, 35 athletes who were present in Gwangju will be back this year.
Despite being the highest African team in the rankings in Gwangju, South Africa ended 25th overall with their six medals, eight medals less than their 14-medal haul of Kazan 2013.
Having only tallied more than ten medals in one of the last four summer Universiades, the South African Universities Association (USSA) is confident this target can be reached once more this year.
“USSA has the outmost confidence in this team and believes that Team SA will improve and prosper from the 2015 results, and achieve the set target of 10 medals,” a statement released by the association read.
However, USSA believes that medals are not the end goals for their athletes, who they believe will gain valuable experience in Chinese Taipei.
“In the upcoming Universiade, Team SA is committed to defend titles, achieve personal best performances, break records, and make lasting memories,” the statement read. “We are committed and will to continue to groom future World Championships and Olympic Games athletes, and more stars will be celebrated by our country who will come through the University programmes and various support systems.”
Noticeable former South African Olympic stars that represented the country in previous Universiades include 1996 Atlanta swimming gold medallist Penny Heyns, 1996 Atlanta 800m silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng, London 2012 200m finalist Anaso Jododwana, Rio 2016 javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen, Rio 2016 100m finalist Akani Simbine and current Olympic champions and 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk.